Opponents of a measure that banned gay marriage in California took their outrage to the spiritual hub of Mormonism on Friday.
More than 3,000 people swarmed downtown Salt Lake City to march past the LDS temple and church headquarters, protesting Mormon involvement in the campaign for California’s Proposition 8. The measure, which defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, passed this week.
A sea of signs in City Creek Park, where the march began, screamed out messages including, “I didn’t vote on your marriage,” “Mormons once persecuted . . . Now persecutors,” and “Jesus said love everyone.” Others read, “Proud of my two moms” and “Protect traditional marriage. Ban divorce.”
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and three openly gay state legislators, Sen. Scott McCoy and Reps. Jackie Biskupski and Christine Johnson, spoke out in support. At one point, the crowd took up the mantra made famous by the country’s new president-elect: “Yes, we can!”
Then, the masses headed west, weaving between cars, waving at those who watched from windows in the LDS Church Office Building and shouting chants such as: “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!”
The comments after the article can be very telling. One commenter asked:
What’s wrong with calling marriage and civil unions just that ?? Why do we have to use the word marriage in both cases when most feel that marriage is between husband and wife ??
Simplistic yes — but that’s the way that I want it and most of the Calif. voters feel the same way — there is a differance.
The problem with maintaining the fiction of “marriage” and “civil unions” comes down to the segregationist concept of “separate but equal”; which as was proven time and time again during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was never equal.
I can understand people having moral/religious qualms against marriage between two people of the same sex, but for me personally it’s about NOT legislating and especially not Constitutionalizing morality. Morality comes from within. It should not be imposed on others.
No one has ever been able to give me a rational non-religious reason for why gay marriage should be banned; no one has been able to tell me how allowing two men or two women to get married to each other damages their own marriage to the point that it needs to be “protected” by law.
If someone can give me a coherent argument on that side, maybe I’ll reconsider; but until then, personally, I must choose to support equal rights for everyone, regardless of race, creed, religion or sexual orientation.
Other people are calling for the revocation of the Church’s tax-exempt status.
The problem there is that the LDS Church is well within its rights to speak out on socio-political issues.
501(c)(3) prohibitions state that a church may not make statements that directly support or oppose a candidate or slate of candidates in a “sermon, church bulletin, on a church website or in an editorial in a church publication.” The bottom line is that § 501(c)(3) prohibits charities—including houses of worship—from endorsing or opposing candidates “either expressly or by implication.”
However, this does not mean that church leaders are not permitted to voice their opinions regarding important socio-political matters that could have profound impact on their congregations. Church leaders have always been free to speak out on moral and ethical issues at stake in pending legislation or public referenda. They may take stands on political issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control, and health care, to name a few.
Taking away the Church’s tax-exempt status could have a profoundly negative impact on other tax-exempt organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), and a host of other organizations’ ability to lobby Congress or support ballot initiatives to increase funding for research.
The Church’s position will never be changed by direct attacks; this will only bolster their opinions. What needs to happen is for active members who disagree with the Church’s position to speak up, rationally and calmly and over and over and over again. Challenge the Church to change from within.
Elsewhere, the focus should be on challenging the legality of Proposition 8 itself in the Courts. Does it constitute a Constitutional revision (which requires approval of both houses of the California State Legislature) rather than an amendment? Does it put the California Constitution into direct conflict itself, by banning same sex marriage, when the Courts have ruled that bans on same sex marriage violate the equal protection clause?
There have also been calls to boycott Utah … I need to think about this one a bit more, but part of me says that rather than boycotting Utah, gay rights activists should start organizing trips to Utah. Most Utahns are isolationists already. Boycotting may just give them a sense of relief. Instead more gay people should travel to Utah, move to Utah, and keep the issue front-and-center in Utah.
And to think I was worried about how I’d spend my post-election blog time.